Starring: Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Isaac Wang
Director: Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada
Running Time: 107 mins
Raya And The Last Dragon is an American film about a young woman who sets out on a quest to collect the pieces of a broken dragon gem, which she hopes can bring together the warring kingdoms of a once unified land.
A true Disney adventure, Raya And The Last Dragon is an absolute delight from start to finish. Complete with visuals more gorgeous than ever, charismatic voice performances, and a boundless imagination, the film delivers soaring adventure full of fun, laughs and emotion that make it an utterly wonderful watch.
Though it starts off in a rather serious manner, Raya And The Last Dragon is never quite as hefty as it first makes out. It’s certainly a lot more light-hearted than the likes of Frozen, although it perhaps doesn’t have quite as many laughs as the likes of Mulan. Saying that, this film is a near-perfect balance between serious, epic adventure and fun-loving family entertainment, and that’s what makes it so irresistibly enjoyable to watch.
Complete with a captivating premise filled with fantasy lore, the movie follows Raya on her quest to collect the pieces of an all-powerful dragon gem from five splintered factions of a once-great kingdom. The overarching idea of the story is fairly simple, and often rather reminiscent of The Last Airbender, as well as parts of Frozen II, but the execution here is really excellent.
At heart, Raya And The Last Dragon is a pure and simple adventure movie, following a great hero as she makes her way through different lands and worlds on the way to saving the world. Along the way, she meets friends, allies and enemies, and it all ties nicely into the film’s main theme about building trust with others in an effort to create a better world.
Admittedly, there are times when the movie can be a little cheesy and heavy-handed in that theme, but there’s no denying that Raya And The Last Dragon is full of heart, tugging at your heartstring with tear-jerker moments from the first to the very last act.
However, as I said, the film is still a whole lot of fun, principally thanks to a collection of great voice performances and vibrant, passionate directing. On the one hand, leads Kelly Marie Tran and as ever Awkwafina are an absolute joy throughout, with supporting stars Isaac Wang, Gemma Chan and Benedict Wong adding to a really charismatic cast that never feels bloated in the slightest.
The group gel really well together through the film, and their partnership on this epic quest feels just as much like a true friendship as it does an alliance to save the world – the perfect recipe for a fun-loving buddy movie. That then plays wonderfully into the film’s humour, which blends really nicely with the more serious action to make it all a really fun watch.
But that action is another part of Raya And The Last Dragon that really stands out. There are some spectacular fantasy sequences set against gorgeous backdrops, but directors Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada manage to bring in some really dynamic hand-to-hand combat, something I haven’t seen in such vibrant fashion in a Disney animation before.
Couple that with visuals that are full of colour and depth, all part of the movie’s boundless imagination and fantasy world, and Raya And The Last Dragon really delivers a soaring adventure to put a big smile on your face.
Funny, action-packed, heartfelt and vibrant throughout, Raya And The Last Dragon is an utterly gorgeous adventure movie that’s sure to delight viewers of all ages. With a perfect blend of epic quest drama and fun-loving family humour, it’s a heap of fun, bolstered all the more by a fantastic voice cast. So, that’s why I’m giving Raya And The Last Dragon a 7.9 overall.